5 Highlights From Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018

I just returned from Denver after a great weekend at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. For those that are unfamiliar, Outdoor Retailer is a conference where outdoor industry brands and manufacturers come together to meet buyers, suppliers, and media. This is an opportunity for these brands to showcase new products, and is also an opportunity to reach a wider and more diverse retail audience.

Looking back at my post from last year’s Winter Market highlights, it’s amazing to see just how fast this year has gone by. A lot of last year’s featured gear is now in my gear closet, and a few items have already been reviewed here on the blog. Looking back at last year, my highlights were very product focused. This year, I find myself focusing more on the important topics and ideas in the Outdoor Industry. I’ve put together a list of the 5 major highlights that stood out for me.

Ultra 3 BLOOM. Each pair recirculated 57 gallons of fresh water back into natural habitats. Vivo also has an Eco range made of 50 percent recycled plastic. Last year, Vivo diverted over 2 million plastic bottles from landfills into their shoes.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Fund. This fund is setup to provide a fully paid education for 10 Nepalese children from elementary school to high school or college. Another important storyline from Sherpa Adventure Gear that caught my attention was that they employ 914 people in Nepal. 808 of those employees are women. It’s really nice to know that purchasing gear from Sherpa Adventure Gear means you’re supporting the ethical treatment and compensation of workers in Nepal.

After meeting with Sherpa Adventure Gear, I met with The Woolmark Company. The Woolmark Company is the global authority on all things Merino Wool, and ensures that all Merino wool bearing their logo represents the highest quality of end product and supply. The Woolmark Company stood out to me for their focus on an ethical supply chain and for the advancements of their naturally sustainable wool fabric.

Many people may be familiar with Merino wool in the travel, hiking, and backpacking communities, but I’ve since received an education on the fabric that has made my appreciation of Merino wool products grow deeper. If you know the basics, you’ll know that Merino wool is naturally anti-microbial (no stink), can absorb 35% of its moisture in weight before feeling wet, resists stains, and will keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold.

Merino wool is also a natural fiber grown year round by Australia’s 70 million sheep that only consume water, air, sunshine, and grass. The fiber is also biodegradable and renewable. This is a major advantage over many synthetic fabrics. There are 50,000 Australian wool growers, most of which are family farms. Many of these farms have been tended by the same family for more than a century.

Outdoor Retailer is often about new technologies, fabrics, and manufacturing processes. My close look at Merino wool showed me that sometimes the natural fabrics can be pretty tough to beat.

The Woolmark Company also invests in R&D with major manufacturers to push the boundaries of Merino wool applications. A new fabric called Nuyarn was my favorite of the entire show. I went home with a Nuyarn Black Diamond shirt called the Rhythm Tee, and I can say it’s the most comfortable shirt I’ve ever worn. The Rhythm Tee will be available in January, and I hope to have a review posted some time around then.

The Adventure Gap. In The Adventure Gap, James chronicles the first all-African American team of climbers to take on Alaska’s Denali.

One of the most pressing topics in the outdoor industry over the last few years has been the inclusion (or lack thereof) of women and people of color. James has been a trailblazer in more than a few ways, and is someone I really look up to and admire.

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Author: Drew Robinson

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